If you’ve ever been out partying in Abu Dhabi, then chances are you will have been to one of Saif and Sound’s sets.
It can seem like the Abu Dhabi-born DJ is everywhere, putting in regular appearances at MAD, Saadiyat Beach Club, ANNEX and many more.
Plus, as an event host and former Radio 1 presenter, you really don’t have to be a regular party goer to know his name.
As the well-deserved winner of our Best Abu Dhabi DJ gong at the Time Out Abu Dhabi Music and Nightlife Awards 2019, and with a new gig as resident DJ at Aloft Abu Dhabi’s Liquid Rain Pool Parties already underway, we ask the producer how it feels to be pretty music totally owning the UAE music scene, and where he sees it going from here.
How does it feel to be Abu Dhabi’s Best DJ?
To be honest, I’ve always thought I was the best DJ ever since I started. I truly believe that in any job you do you have to believe you are the best before you can become the best. Being named Abu Dhabi’s Best DJ is really just a nice acknowledgement of everything I’ve done. I was born and raised here, I’ve been DJing for 13 years around literally every club and venue in the city. It’s just really nice to know that people appreciate and acknowledge what you are contributing to the music scene in the UAE.
So you started DJing as a teenager?
Yes when I was about 15, obviously as an amateur but I still played at birthday and graduation parties and stuff. I only started getting serious about it when I was 19, when I started working as a presenter on Radio 1. The spotlight was on me then and things started going crazy. I was planning big festivals and concerts, then when I turned 21 I started getting bookings from clubs. That was the turning point for me. Music has been in my life from so early on, I am destined to do this.
What does Abu Dhabi mean to you?
So much, it’s impossible to explain. This is my home town, and when I started there wasn’t much going on in the nightlife scene, even concerts only started about seven years ago. So, because I was part of the process from day one, and because people continue to ask me to be part of new things, it is so special. Everything I do is to give back to Abu Dhabi, because this city has given me the opportunity to achieve all my dreams and become the person I am today.
Tell us about the Aloft Abu Dhabi pool parties.
My events company has collaborated with Aloft to put on these pool parties for a season on the first Friday of every month. We did the first one last month and it was amazing, but the one on September 5 [a Thursday] is part of the Abu Dhabi Showdown Week and it’s going to be absolutely huge, we’re expecting 1,000 people. What I like about it is it is the only night-time pool party in Abu Dhabi. In summer day pool parties are too much as it’s too hot to stay out for long. But these parties are an excuse to have fun and beat the heat.
What do you think of Abu Dhabi Showdown Week?
It’s all really exciting and I love the idea of having a whole week around the [UFC] event. Abu Dhabi has always been known as the quieter city compared to Dubai, so I’m really proud that this is happening and it just emphasises that there is actually a lot happening in Abu Dhabi. I think this is a starting point for the city to do more stuff like this in the future. I’m definitely going to the fight, but it’s really funny because I’m DJing almost everywhere throughout the week. I’m doing MAD on Thursday, Saadiyat beach Club, hosting a press conference for the UFC, the pool party at Aloft and ANNEX at Abu Dhabi EDITION. So I’m doing so much. It’s basically Abu Dhabi Saif and Sound Week as well.
What can people expect from one of your sets?
Well, the thing is, you can’t expect anything because I always have something new to add to it. To be honest I’m all about reading the crowd and making sure they are having a good time. That’s my biggest concern. When people leave I want them to walk away with good memories and know they’ve had a good time. I’m also big on the mic and I like talking and joking with the crowd. I like to say “hi”, take pictures and be part of their experience.
What do you think to the nightlife scene here?
It’s definitely got better in recent years but there is room for improvement. Abu Dhabi needs more places, new concerts and more creative ideas, but it is growing at a slow pace. People are waiting for new concerts and new places, business owners just need to decide to do it and open something up. If you want to do something like that then Abu Dhabi is the place to be.
Where do you see it going from here?
I read an article saying that the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi have allocated Dhs660 million for the next three years to improve the events and festivals here. That’s a lot of money so they must believe that it is the way to go. I think this is an eye opener for people and it will make people see that Abu Dhabi is going somewhere.
What kind of music do you listen to?
I try to listen to anything that I don’t play during my gigs. I’ve been listening to a lot of afro beats music at the moment, and I also like jazz, funk and soul, I really like that vibe. It’s the kind of music I play on my phone when I go to the beach. It just helps me to refresh my mind a little bit and ensures I don’t get sick of the music I play in my sets. I don’t want to do that to myself.
It’s fair to say that Saif is as capitvating a performer as he is interviewee. He’ll be at Liquid Rain pool parties on the first Thursday of every month at Mai Cafe, Aloft Abu Dhabi, ADNEC. The next event is on Thursday September 5 and standard tickets are Dhs125, which incudes a drink. If ladies turn up when doors open at 8pm, entry is free. We’ll see you through the foam.
Dhs125. Thu Sep 5, 8pm-3am. Aloft Abu Dhabi, ADNEC (02 654 5193).